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"Precious Stones"

Van Cleef & Arpels - Paris


The exhibition's scenography, designed by Jouin Manku, invites visitors to explore a dynamic universe of changing colors and materials. Inspired by the sensations and fascinations aroused by precious stones, the duo Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have designed a journey structured in three stages. These stages correspond to the different phases in the formation of minerals and their transformation by man.
Delving into the depths of the Earth and then emerging to the surface, this exploration draws inspiration from George Sand's lesser-known novel, "Laura: A Journey into the Crystal," which also inspired Jules Verne for his "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The narrative within the exhibition seamlessly blends two dimensions: the vast cosmos and the realm of humanity, as well as two scales: the infinitely large and the infinitely small. To navigate these conceptual spaces and times, Jouin Manku Agency has chosen to manipulate light, color, and materials to enhance fluidity, contrasts, and transparencies.

The depths are represented by dark tones, while telluric convulsions are depicted through warm colors that gradually shift to cooler tones as one ascends to the surface. A series of circular spaces symbolize this dynamic, particularly in the second part of the exhibition. This journey continues seamlessly, transitioning from friezes to windows, showcasing a Paris of inventions and innovations from the Grand Siècle to the present day.
Within the Grande Galerie de l'Évolution, "Pierres précieuses" continues the ongoing dialogue between art and science that commenced in 2016 during the exhibition "The Art and Science of Gems" in Singapore. The intention of the scenographers, who have access to a wealth of scientific data and numerous exceptional creations, is to offer visitors a timeless experience where curiosity is continuously piqued and sustained. While it may lead to numerous discoveries, the exhibition maintains the wonder and preciousness of stones and nature.

To achieve this, the designers envisioned a luminous space at the heart of the exhibition, adorned with a translucent white textile. Inspired by a cave in Mexico containing breathtaking giant crystals, this feature within the exhibition serves as a focal point and even a meditative space.
Whether natural or crafted by human hands, and due to their existence on a timescale that transcends human experience, precious stones possess a beauty and vitality of their own. The exhibition celebrates these qualities, and its architecture faithfully serves this purpose.


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ClientNational Museum of Natural History and Van Cleef & Arpels

Scenography and showcase designPatrick Jouin 
Sanjit Manku
Jacques Goubin 
Mio Shibuya
Marion Legeard 

Architect of recordAntoine Plazanet, Fabrique 66

Program4 April - 31 December 2020


Exhibition "Pierres Précieuses (Precious Stones)" - VCA & JM for MNHN © Eric Laignel